There are countless kiteboarding destinations in the Caribbean, but the five we’ve picked here are easy to get to and offer activities for the whole family to enjoy, whether the rest of your clan enjoys your kiteboarding addiction or not.
Through our travels, we’ve found that it’s usually best to plan at least one trip a year that doesn’t only cater to one family member’s wants. So what if you loved the last trip because you got to be on the water all day if the rest of the family hates you because they got to be cold and blasted by sand for the whole trip. For your next vacation, plan a few non-kiteboarding activities and you’ll keep everyone happy and avoid pouting on the beach because there isn’t any wind.
We all love kiteboarding and want to do it as much as possible, but when traveling it’s important to be open to doing some exploring and trying new things, especially if you have non-kiteboarders with you. It’s a shame to travel somewhere and miss out on the great opportunities there because you spent the whole day waiting for the wind line to come in!
#1: British Virgin Islands
By Trip Forman
The British Virgin Islands are commonly known as the most beautiful place to sail on earth. With the “Indo Boat Trip” being all the rage in surfing and pro-kitesurfing circles, chartering a Moorings Yacht through REAL BVI allows you the same experience, minus the three-day travel drama and third world frustrations. In one week, you can kite five or more different islands while enjoying the life that inspired Jimmy Buffett to write most of his Caribbean-based songs. Yes, bring the non-kiters with you! Businesses like The Moorings and many other yacht charter companies do very well without having to cater to kiteboarders. This means that non-kiters will be very happy and entertained in the BVIs. This is a trip that you must do at least once in your lifetime!
How to Get There: American Airlines is the king of the Caribbean. Fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU) and then take a puddle jumper to Tortola, BVI. If you have surfboards or SUPs loner than 8’, fly to St. Thomas, USVI (STT) and then take the ferry to Tortola. You will need a valid passport to travel to the BVIs.
Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit the BVIs is December through March.
Typical Conditions: Warm water and air; you only need a wetsuit top or a shorty. For kites we’ve seen everything from 8m kites all day and night for a week up to 16m meter kites and light wind boards or surfboards. Bring your light wind gear to make sure you’re covered. Typical winds during the peak season are 12m and 10m daily. There are some great surf breaks for surfing in the morning and kitesurfing in the afternoon. It’s definitely worth the extra cost to bring a kitesurf board, versus only bringing a twin tip. Standup paddleboards are a great tool to bridge the wind gap in the BVIs because the water is so clear and beautiful. The problem with SUPs is that the longest board they’ll take from Puerto Rico to Tortola is 8’. If you want to bring an SUP, you’ll need to fly through St. Thomas, USVI and then take a ferry across to Tortola BVI, where you can clear customs. Scattered rain showers make a rain/wind shell a nice article of clothing to pack.
Where to Stay: If you are going to the BVIs the ONLY place to stay is on a boat, not because there aren’t land-based operations, but because the boat offers unlimited mobility and a 360° water view in the best place to sail on earth! Check out REAL BVI and The Moorings for Signature Charters with captain and chef or bareboat charter a boat from The Moorings if you have the skills and explore the unlimited potential of the BVIs.
What to Do if No Wind: Sailing, surfing, standup paddleboarding, fishing, kayaking, snorkeling and diving, hiking, sightseeing, and partying! Nothing beats the Rum Punch at The Bomba Shack on Tortola or their Full Moon Party.
Contact for More Info: For more information, contact REAL BVI and REAL Watersports (www.realwatersports.com, 866-REAL-548 or 252-987-6000). REAL has been putting together trips to the BVIs since 2005 and has the system wired with great travel itineraries and high-end yachts and crews through The Moorings. REAL BVI travels the area every January, but if you can’t make this trip, REAL can still book any week of the year and get you all the relevant kiting info you need to get dialed in.
By AJ Watson
Nassau, Bahamas, is located on New Providence Island, which at seven miles long by twenty-one wide is easy to get around to find the perfect spot to ride. There are both flat-water and wave riding locations here. All major airlines fly to Nassau and it’s only 140 miles from the east coast of Florida. Check out www.Bahamas.com for accommodation and flight deals/packages.
How to Get There: The local airport is Nassau International Airport (NAS). If you are bringing large bags, fly Bahamas Air as they will charge less for excess baggage than the other airlines. Always travel with a golf travel bag.
Best Time to Visit: The most consistent winds are between the end of October and early June.
Typical Conditions: Usually, the water temperature is 75° and the wind is between 15 and 18 knots. The wind can be stronger during cold fronts. For a wetsuit, a spring shorty or long-sleeve top will do. Bring your 9-12m kites and maybe a 15m for the lighter days.
Where to Stay: Orange Hill Beach Hotel (http://www.orangehill.com) is my first choice for accommodations. A Stones Throw Away (http://www.astonesthrowaway.com/) is another nice place to stay. If you are traveling with non-kiteboarding family members and want to make sure they have plenty of activities to do, you can stay at Atlantis (http://www.atlantis.com) or one of the other all-inclusive hotels. If you are on a budget, check out the Land Shark Divers Hotel (http://www.landsharkdivers.com).
What to Do if No Wind: There’s plenty to do here if the wind doesn’t blow! You can rent a scooter and check out the island, go deep sea fishing, go snorkeling or diving with sharks, go shopping in downtown Nassau (duty free shopping), or take a day trip to the Exuma Cays.
Contact for More Info: The local kiteboarding school is Cross-Shore Bahamas Kiteboarding School (www.cross-shore.com or 242-362-4702)
#3: Cabarete, Dominican Republic
By Stefan Ruether
Cabarete, Dominican Republic offers an incredible variety of sports and adventure opportunities including kiteboarding, surfing, windsurfing, mountain biking, diving, canyoneering, paragliding, golfing, and fishing just to name a few. Cabarete offers consistent year-round kitesurfing conditions and warm air and water temperatures. Riders from all over the world flock to Cabarete, so there is a real melting pot of kiters of all nationalities here. Cabarete is not as cheap of a place to visit as it once was, but it still offers an excellent value for the money.
How to Get There: There are four international airports in the Dominican Republic. It’s a big island, so make sure you choose your flight correctly! We strongly recommend that you fly into Puerto Plata (POP) as it’s only 25 minutes away from Cabarete. Avoid flying into Punta Cana at all costs as driving from the east side of the island to Cabarete takes seven hours! You may be able to find better airfares to Santiago (1.5 hours away, $100 taxi) or Santo Domingo (3.5 hours away, $180 taxi).
Best Time to Visit: Any time is a good time to visit the Dominican Republic because of the year-round warm and sunny climate. In 2009, Cabarete had 330 days of kitable wind!
Typical Conditions: Cabarete has great consistent wind, averaging 15-25 mph. Most riders here use kites in the 9-15m range. Check out daily wind forecasts at http://www.kitexcite.com/wind-forecast-for-dominican-republic-cabarete-kite-beach. The water and air temperature here both hover around 80-85° year round.
Where to Stay: Kite Beach Hotel (http://kitebeachhotel.com) is located in the center of Cabarete’s Kite Beach. Each room is just a few steps from the warm Caribbean waters. There are tons of places to stay in Cabarete, so if you would like more options, please contact us at http://www.kitexcite.com and we’ll get you set up.
What to Do if No Wind: It’s not likely that you won’t be able to kite, but you can easily stay occupied in Cabarete. Not a lot of people know this, but the Dominican Republic is one of the best places in the world to learn how to scuba dive. The Encuentro Surfing Beach, on the North Coast, is becoming increasingly popular for surfers and kitesurfers alike. Riding a mountain bike in the Dominican Mountains is a lot of fun for both non-kitesurfers and kitesurfers on no-wind days. The Dominican Republic has about 20 different paragliding spots offering all kind of flights, from smooth coastal soaring to big cross country flights in the mountains. If you want to get airborne in the Caribbean, this is the right place.
Contact for More Info: For questions about Cabarete, contact Kitexcite at http://www.kitexcite.com or 892-962-4556.
#4: Cayman Islands
By Paul Menta
The Cayman Islands are quickly becoming a premier kiting destination in the Caribbean. The safe and relaxed tropical island feel along with the steady wind and warm water make Grand Cayman ideal for a kiting trip. Tons of flat water makes it easy to learn or work on your tricks and the waves on the reef just a few hundred yards offshore offer a playground for surf-minded kiters. One of the best things about the islands is the absence of crowds. Unlike many other kite destinations, the Cayman Islands have massive riding areas that can accommodate hundreds of riders, but there are usually less than 20 people out at a time.
How to Get There: The Cayman Islands are a British Overseas Territory located in the Western Caribbean. By jet, the Cayman Islands are only a 70-minute direct flight from Miami. The main passenger airport in the Cayman Islands is Owen Roberts International Airport (GCM). There are direct flights from Miami, Chicago, Houston, Boston, New York, Charlotte, and London. Car rentals are readily available and affordable, but you must be 21 to rent a car. Remember, they drive on the left side of the road here!
Best Time to Visit: Winter is our most consistent windy season, starting in October and going until May. The strongest and most consistent days are between November and April.
Typical Conditions: Most days the wind blows over 20 knots, and it blows all day and all night. The temperature is always warm, usually in the high 70s. On the coldest cloudy windy days we wear shorties, but most days we ride in board shorts.
Where to Stay: The Kitehouse is based at Ocean Frontiers Dive Center, on the east end of Grand Cayman. From here it’s just a short boat ride to some of the best kiting and diving spots that the Caribbean has to offer. You can stay at the oceanfront Compass Point Resort (http://www.compasspoint.ky). There are one and two bedroom units located directly on the water just steps from the boats. The Reef (http://www.thereef.com/) and Morritt’s (http://morrittsgrand.com) both have a restaurant, bar, spa, pool, and nice beach out front. You can launch from both Morritt’s and The Reef, but it’s better to go 1/4 mile to the east where the island bends.
What to Do if No Wind: Besides the excellent scuba diving here, there is also stand up paddling, kayaking, surfing, snorkeling, cave tours, or you can just relax in a hammock next to the ocean. The island’s most famous excursion is to Stingray City where boatloads of tourists debark at nearby Stingray Sandbar and squeal nervously while adjusting to the presence of large rays which they can feed and pet while snorkeling in waist-deep water.
Contact for More Info: For more information, contact the Kitehouse Cayman Islands (http://www.thekitehouse.com/cayman.htm or 345-925-8129).
By Mike Tiedemann
Aruba is truly a destination with some of the most consistent trade winds on the planet. Aruba is blessed with year-round sun, wind, and turquoise waters. The Fisherman’s Huts area on the northwest side of the island is located directly adjacent to the high-rise hotels which makes it a great place for kiters traveling with non-kiting family members. This is an offshore wind location so it is advisable to check with one of the local schools prior to kiting (current restrictions limit kiting to morning and afternoon hours). On the southeast side of the island is a beautiful spot for advance riders called Boca Grandi. This half-moon shaped bay has steady onshore winds with an outer reef which provides for some great wave riding. To get to Boca Grande, a rental car or kite excursion from one of the schools is a must. Other spots to kite include Barcadera and Arashi.
How to Get There: Oranjestad, Aruba (AUA) is the local airport and is a short 15-20 minute ride to most of the hotels. You can get direct flights to Aruba from a number of cities in the United States.
Best Time to Visit: Year round, with slightly lighter winds mid-September through mid-November.
Typical Conditions: Warm weather and water year round. Kites in the 9m-12m range are appropriate for most days. Bring a rash guard or riding shirt and plenty of sunscreen.
Where to Stay: The Holiday Inn (http://www.caribbeanhi.com/aruba), The Marriott Hotels (http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/auaar-aruba-marriott-resort-and-stellaris-casino), and The Boardwalk Vacation Retreat (http://www.arubaboardwalk.com) are the closest hotels to the primary kite location at Fisherman’s Huts. For a great deal on an exclusive place to stay, you can book a room in the Aruba Marriott Tradewinds Club through Vela (http://www.velawindsurf.com or 800-223-5443) and save 30% off normal rates and get a free trainer kite.
What to Do if No Wind: This is truly a windy destination so if you are coming for kiting you should not be disappointed. However there are numerous no-wind activities including snorkel trips, scuba diving, horseback riding, quad rentals, island tours, skydiving, waterskiing, wakeboarding, and sunset sail trips.
Contact for More Info: Dare2Fly Aruba (http://dare2flyaruba.com) is the only IKO affiliated school on Aruba. Located right across the street from the Dare2Fly Kiteboarding Center is Fiberworks NV, the biggest shop on Aruba for all kite equipment.